A former hockey-playing girl from Ithaca, N.Y., Megan Shull has become a popular author of the Skye O'Shea series of books, about a hockey-playing girl from Ithaca, N.Y.
Megan Shull didn't set out to be a writer of children and teen literature. "It was serendipitous," says Shull. "I was taking a hike one day and this story just popped into my head."
The story was "Yours Truly, Skye O'Shea," about Skye O'Shea, a hockey-playing sixth grader growing up in Ithaca, New York. After Shull finished writing, the book was sold to American Girl (a publishing and toy division of Mattel Inc.)."I had a little bit of beginner's luck," says Shull.
Maybe it was preordained. Like Skye O'Shea, Megan Shull was a hockey-playing kid growing up in Ithaca, New York, and to hear her tell it, those years were nothing short of idyllic. "I grew up right down the road from Cornell, which makes for a pretty cool backyard."
Hockey was a part of her childhood as well. Shull started playing at age seven, first with boys and later with the Ithaca Shooting Stars?one of the oldest girls' ice hockey programs in the country. Princeton standout and fellow Ivy 50th anniversary honoree Mollie Marcoux was a teammate. "Mollie is a phenomenally gifted athlete," she says, "I was always happy to pass her the puck?nine out of ten times she would zip down the ice and score."
When it came time for college, Shull just moved down the street ? and played hockey. "I never really wanted to go anywhere else," she says. "Cornell was always a destination on my list. My older sisters and a brother-in-law all played hockey at Cornell. I was happy to step onto the ice with a Cornell jersey."
But it was a joy that was fleeting. Shull had a career ending injury her sophomore year and was forced to take an abrupt retirement. "I was lucky to be at a school where there was a whole world waiting for me outside of Lynah Rink," says Shull. "Many of the lessons I learned on the ice, helped light the way toward new dreams, and a new path in life."
Shull finished her undergraduate degree and went on to graduate school at Cornell, where her work focused on discovering ways to help girls successfully negotiate adolescence. Her research found that even through minimal intervention, exposing girls to authentic experiences, and triumphs of adult women, has a significant cognitive impact. This research culminated in Shull earning a doctoral degree in educational psychology in 1998.
Writing is how Shull has chosen to help girls with what she learned in her research. In the fall of 2005 Hyperion Books for Children (Disney Publishing Worldwide) published Shull's third book for young people. "Amazing Grace" is about Grace 'Ace' Kincaid?teen tennis sensation turned cover girl who abandons her career to live the life of an anonymous teenager in a small town in Alaska.
Shull appreciates hearing from readers, "There aren't too many jobs where you get such lovely and heartfelt feedback." The publishing community seems to agree. The book has recently been nominated for The American Library Association's Best Book for Young Adults Award, is a BookSense Children's Pick, and a Bank Street Teen Book of the Year. In addition, "Skye's the Limit!" won the National Parenting Publications 2003 Gold Medal.
Shull's writing goals appear more modest. She says she'd be happy to continue to "write more books, and contribute in a positive way." She's doing it from Ithaca, where "I live next to a waterfall. It's pretty sweet, I am grateful."
— Stephen Eschenbach